Shopko employees receive notice of store closure during Christmas rush



Webster’s Shopko Hometown is closing.

The decision to close the store in Webster and three others in South Dakota was confirmed Dec. 5 by Michelle Hansen from the Shopko corporate office in Green Bay, WI.

“It’s not easy to close a location,” she said “But we thank the team in these communities and the local patrons.”

Hansen said the stores’ employees were informed of the decision to close Dec. 4.

A total of four Hometown stores in South Dakota are slated to close. Besides Webster, closing are the stores in Redfield, Wagner and Dell Rapids. Nationwide, 39 stores were said to be axed.

According to Hansen, the reason for closure is lack of profit.

The stores are set to close by the end of February. Liquidation sales began Dec. 7.

“I am really sad to see this happen and I’m really concerned for my team and the community,” Shopko Hometown Webster manager Susie Miller said. “It’s with a heavy heart... I’m very, very sad.”

According to Miller, Shopko employs 15 full and part time in Webster.

“Terrible. It’s a terrible thing for our whole area – not just for the employees or the city of Webster,” said Webster Mayor Mike Grosek about the news. “There are just so many people who utilize Shopko, people who come to town to shop there.”

Grosek said the news came as a surprise since he believed the Webster retail store had been doing “very well,” he said.

Upon hearing of the closure, Grosek said he contacted the store’s district manager to see if there was anything to be done to save the Webster store. He was told his comments would be forwarded on to superiors. Grosek was hoping he would hear back from someone at Shopko’s corporate office.

The City of Webster and the Webster Area Development Corporation (WADC) invested close to $50,000 in the facility as part of a deal to get Shopko to come to Webster, Grosek said. Shopko Hometown opened in Webster the summer of 2015 after ALCO closed in 2014. The Hometown store opened at 620 E. Hwy. 12, the same building that had housed ALCO.

“It feels kind of like getting a slap in the face for trying to be nice. We put our best foot forward,” Grosek said. “This is a big hit for the city... not just the economic impact, but to the employees too. And right before Christmas – what a present.”

Grosek said he will do what he can to “turn this around” by talking to and reaching out to those at Shopko’s corporate level.

“It’s disappointing to hear,” said Tom Sannes, president of the WADC. “I think Shopko has been well-received in Webster. It has been a plus for us to have them here. (Now) we’re just going to have to roll up our sleeves, get to work and figure out what comes next.”

Sannes said the WADC is interested in making progress for the community and noted that how success is measured is different for everyone.

“Ten years ago, did anybody ever think the old Vo-Tech building would be anything? Or the Otter Tail project – that was not on anyone’s radar,” Sannes said.

He expressed the WADC’s continued interest in making Webster a destination. He looks at this as an opportunity for a different business to come into town. He said the WADC has already begun working on the issue. He said they are trying to look positively at the situation.

“What’s the saying? When one door closes, another one opens. You can choose to look at it as half full or half empty. (We’ve) just got to keep trying,” Sannes said.

This issue illustrates the importance of shopping locally, Sannes said. That small towns are battling online shopping, he commented, “that’s the 50,000-pound gorilla in every community.”

According to Sannes’ memory, there was a major retail shift in Webster during the 1990s and 2000s from Main Street to Hwy. 12 in Webster.

“We’re disappointed to hear, we hope they will stay, but (if not) we will go back to work and see what comes next,” Sannes said.

Sannes doesn’t look at the $50,000 investment WADC and the City of Webster made into the building as a lost investment.

“The building is still here,” he said. “We invested in the building. That investment doesn’t leave the community.”

There will be a “save our store committee” meeting in the Day County Courthouse Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m. Enter through the east doors and come to room 205 (commissioners’ room).

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